THUNDER BAY -- Lynda Randle’s candle business got its start in November 2014 when she bought candle-making equipment from a candle maker going out of business. Although she already worked full time as a bookkeeper, she wanted to start a small business; one that she could eventually hand over to her daughter-in-law, Sharon.
”I just wanted to work for myself, sometimes you get tired of working for other people. And I wanted to leave something for my daughter-in-law, and my granddaughter too.”
“We brought all the equipment home, set up in my kitchen, and we made candles. We made 36 tea lights, and only two turned out,” Randle recalls. The women went back to the drawing board, did a lot of research and experimenting and made it to their first craft show in April 2015. Encouraged by the experience, Randle decided to apply for a spot at the Thunder Bay Country Market, and she has had a stall upstairs for two years now.
Randle’s Candles are made with soy wax, palm wax or coconut wax. The palm wax has a crystallized look to it that many customers like, and she colours them to enhance their appeal. The coconut wax is soft and comes in 8-ounce glass milk bottles or a coconut shell. A milk bottle candle costs $30, but it is not so expensive when you consider that they can burn for 40 to 45 hours.
Candle making is not as simple as melt and pour; “everything has to be just perfect, the temperature of the wax, the temperature of the container, even the room temperature,” she explains. Constantly trying to figure out what her customers want, she has an extensive collection of scents ranging from herbs and foods such as lavender and chocolate to Persians.
Her products can be found online (she has shipped candles to places as far away as France), at the Thunder Bay Country Market and a few stores in town, such as Gallery 33 (on the corner of River Street and Balsam Street) and Paro Centre for Women’s Enterprise on May Street. You can bring back the used jars, bottles and tins for a refill and Randle will also happily pour candles into a container of your choice, as long as it is made of glass or metal.
Randle still works full time as a bookkeeper and runs her own bookkeeping business, but she has managed to fit candle making into her busy schedule. “I love to do it; I have no idea what time it is when I go down to my room to pour candles. I have no clock. I find it relaxing after a stressful day.” Leading up to craft shows and busy times of the year, she spends up to 20 hours a week working on her candle business. “I don’t have any time to watch TV,” she laughs.
The past few years have been a steep learning curve for Randle, especially the social media aspect of a business that no entrepreneur nowadays can afford to ignore. “My long term goal is to have a store, and to be able to pass it down to my daughter-in-law and granddaughter,” she says of the future. She would like to leave them a feasible business that would allow them to achieve a good work-life balance. “My granddaughter is three years old, so she has a long way to go before she can actually help out, though,” she smiles.